Citing Pope Francis, Mgr Camilleri calls on Catholics to "live the Gospel in the heart of the nation.”

The Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has invited Card Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, to visit the country "in the near future" in a message sent to Pope Francis and the cardinal on the occasion of Christmas holidays.

The invitation comes in a statement in which the Vatican and Vietnam announce the future posting of a resident nuncio in Hanoi, following the seventh meeting of the Joint Working Group between Vietnam and the Holy See held in Hanoi “in a cordial and mutually respectful atmosphere".

“I believe that this meeting has marked an important progress in the process of developing relations between Vietnam and the Holy See,” Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said. “The purpose of this bilateral relationship is to meet the common interests of the two countries as well as the interests of the Vietnamese Catholic community.”

The prime minister goes on to say that the Government of Vietnam “always focuses on national solidarity, uniting Catholics with non-Catholics.” It “consistently implements a policy of respect and assurance for the freedom of belief and religion of everyone”.

On a personal note, Mr Nguyễn acknowledges “the positive and effective contributions of Vietnamese Catholics to the development of our country. The Vietnamese government advocates, encourages, and sets good conditions for religions’ activities, including the Vietnamese Catholic Church."

Although the latest developments in Vatican-Vietnam relations have enlivened the Christmas of Vietnamese Catholics, the authorities continue to seize Church assets. Likewise, Catholic clergy, activists and dissidents committed to democracy and social justice continue to endure threats and pressures.

In his response to the Prime Minister, Mgr Antoine Camilleri, Vatican undersecretary for Relations with States, relayed “Pope Francis' Christmas greetings to the leaders of the country and the people of Vietnam".

"The Holy Father Francis and the Holy See look forward to developing relations with Vietnam. The Holy Father always encourages Vietnamese Catholics to live the Gospel in the heart of the nation”. Indeed, “A good Catholic is also a good citizen who contributes to the full human development of the country."

By Peter Nguyen Van - AsiaNews - 27 décembre 2018